State Library of South Australia logo Wooden walls and iron sides
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Emigration Square
Title : Emigration Square Emigration Square
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Perry, J.N.
Source : Register, 27 July 1911, p. 9 Early immigrants landing in the pioneer days
Date of creation : 1911
Format : Newspaper
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

"J. N. Perry's diary ... includes description of Emigrant Square, location"

Arriving in a newly founded colony where there were no facilities other than what the immigrants brought with them, or could build once they had arrived was a rude shock after leaving the cultivated European countryside or the cities and towns with houses, shops and made roads. By the time J N Perry arrived in 1839 at least the track from the landing place at Glenelg to the town of Adelaide was a beaten pathway, and there were some carts and wagons to help convey them: the first arrivals two years previously had made their way through untouched scrub.

Their destination was Emigration Square built for the temporary housing of new immigrants, until they could establish themselves by finding work or acquiring their own land where they could build. The Emigration Square or Depot was a camp in the West Parklands consisting of tents and temporary dwellings. It is variously described as being at the corner of North and West terraces or opposite the end of Currie Street. The Kingston map (1842) shows it at this location. It contained the office for the Emigration Agent and an infirmary. The Emigration Agent would advise the camp when new ships were expected and which current occupants should vacate to make room for new arrivals. A schedule of previous ship arrivals would be given to aid in this. Perry says in his account that they '... were bundled out at a week's notice ...'

Perry's description of the buildings in the camp indicates that they were fairly crowded in the accommodation, but that the buildings were reasonably substantial. Thirty or so wooden huts had been brought out from England soon after settlement and erected in the West Parklands.

From the early 1840s new arrivals were allowed to remain aboard the ship for a fortnight while they found work and housing. The Emigration Depot remained in place until 1851 when it was replaced with the newly built Destitute Asylum adjacent to Government House.

Coverage year : 1839
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Allen, James. South Australia as it is, and how to get to it: compiled for the use of intending emigrants, of all classes, to this thriving and highly prosperous colony [Facsim. ed.] Adelaide: Public Library of South Australia, 1963

Haines, Robin. Life and death in the age of sail: the passage to Australia Sydney, N.S.W.: University of New South Wales Press, 2003

Parsons, Ronald. Migrant ships for South Australia, 1836-1866 Gumeracha, S.A.: Gould Books, 1999

Stephens, John. The land of promise: being an authentic and impartial history of the rise and progress of the new British province of South Australia ... London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1839

Wilkinson, George Blakiston. The working man's handbook to South Australia: with advice to the farmer, and detailed information for the several classes of labourers and artizans Adelaide, S. Aust: Public Library of South Australia, 1962

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing exhibitions. Wooden Walls and Iron Sides August 2004-



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on